Social life is possible only if members of society respect the wishes of one another. There would be no human society if every man acted as he wished. Our personal actions and dealings with others are regulated by certain rules of conduct. Man’s willing obedience to the laws of morality, and of justice is the basis of human society.
True human happiness depends on this submission of the individual to laws of conduct. The difference between right and wrong, proper and improper, good and bad is an essential difference. Our ideas of right and wrong, etc., may change from age to age, from society to society, but a difference between right and wrong always exists.
A properly brought up child is taught early to obey the laws of conduct. We educate him to know right from wrong. We tell him what to do and what not to do. The best way of discipline is not by preaching long lecturers delivered again and again. These lectures do not make our children better men and women. Our own example and our own practice are the best teachers for our children. They do what they see us do. A child is a born imitator and hero-worshipper. Early in life he chooses his hero and imitates him. So the best discipline for a child is through training and example. Fear of punishment may keep him away from doing wrong, but it will not make him choose or do right.
Discipline is usually associated with a physical aspect of life. But it is more of mental than of body. The progress of human thoughts depends on it. Every man cannot . have what he wants. He must discipline himself to think that his personal happiness is not the first concern of mankind. He must learn to curb those desires which come in conflict with the desires of the rest of mankind.
But true discipline does not come from force. We have said that the fear of punishment does not teach a child to obey rationally. Military discipline according to which every soldier acts like a machine even though his conduct is not due to fear of punishment is not the highest form of discipline. When men obey willingly and with pleasure, they may be said to be properly disciplined. But in order that it may be so our laws should be reasonable and just.
In an ideal state of society, no one rules all men obey. There are no governors, only a government. Men obey because they have that highest form of discipline called self-discipline. Self-discipline is the essential quality which should be achieved through struggle.